And the Nominee for the Supreme Court Bench is . . . Merrick Garland
By: Audrey Henderson
Judge Merrick Garland, age 63, was born in Chicago, Illinois, to parents Cyril and Shirley Garland. Before graduating from high school as valedictorian, he became a member of the Presidential Scholars Program and a National Merit Scholar. After high school, Garland attended Harvard College on scholarship, rising to the top of his class and graduating summa cum laude with bachelor’s degree in Social Studies. He then went on to attend Harvard Law, where he became the editor for the Harvard Law Review. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law, Garland served as a clerk for the well-known Second Circuit Judge Henry Friendly and then subsequently Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. Garland then went into private practice at Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C. and was named partner after four years in 1985, but moved on to serve as the assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia under President George H.W. Bush. Garland’s service to that office was described by Attorney Jay Stephen, a Republican appointee, as having “dedication, sound judgment, excellent legal ability, a balanced temperament, and the highest ethical and professional standards.”
Garland was later selected as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), and later as the Principal Associate at the DOJ. In these two roles, he oversaw some of the most important federal criminal cases brought by the DOJ. The two most notable and well-known are Garland’s supervision of the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombing case, as well as the Unabomber case. At the time, Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, a Republican, stated that Garland “distinguished himself in a situation where he had to lead a highly complicated investigation and make quick decisions during critical times.”
After these 1990s prosecutions, he was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1995 and was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit with a 76-23 vote by a majority support from both Republicans and Democrats in 1997. He continues to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals and has been the Chief Judge for over three years now.
Subsequent to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, President Obama nominated Garland to the Supreme Court of the United States. Garland has built a reputation for himself that speaks wonders. He is known for “playing it straight, and deciding every case based on what the law requires.” Garland has personally stated, “[t]he role of the court is to apply the law to the facts of the case before it – not to legislate, not to arrogate to itself the executive power, not to hand down advisory opinions on the issues of the day.” However, some may describe Garland as “a moderate-to-liberal Justice” and with that comes the possibility that the Supreme Court “would tip to the left on several key issues, like abortion, affirmative action, the death penalty, gun control, campaign spending, immigration ad environmental protection.” This statement, however, may be considered skeptical because only time will tell if Judge Garland is confirmed to the bench, and will even hear these types of cases.
With elections right around the corner, many people were split on whether President Obama should have even made a nomination. Republicans tend to argue that the next President should be the one to make the nomination, while Democrats argue the opposite. However, since President Obama has made a nomination under his constitutional authority, the next issue is whether the Senate should vote to confirm Garland. Given the historical context of the Constitution, more people are likely to think that the Senate should vote now. As stated before, with elections right around the corner, a minority believe that the current Senate should not vote on the nomination no matter how the November elections turn out.